The Way to Work: Don’t Pollute When You Commute!


Green Day 24th September 2004


Green Day takes place on the last Friday of September each year.  On this day the Gerard Le Claire Environmental Trust asks schools, businesses and individuals to think about how they get to work, try an alternative to the car, wear something green and make a donation to the Trust.  Why do we do this? As well as raising valuable funds to support local environmental projects, we are trying to encourage people to think about the impact of their daily commute.


In recent years, the rapid increase in car ownership has resulted in a situation where traffic is one of the main environmental problems facing Jersey today.  While congestion is the obvious visible part of the problem, traffic is also the cause of a multitude of other issues, which affect the quality of life in Jersey.  It is responsible for:


  • Atmospheric pollution, exacerbating asthma and other respiratory diseases such as bronchitis.
  • Global warming: road traffic produces large quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2), the so-called greenhouse gas, which is known to contribute to global warming: each 2-mile car journey we undertake produces the same amount of CO2 emissions as heating an average house for 24 hours.
  • Noise, which as well as quality of life, also affects house prices.
  • Energy consumption, causing the depletion of natural resources and the release of carbon from the ground where it has been stored into the air where it is now changing the atmosphere.
  • Occupation of space, especially in town, which could be put to more productive use.  In addition, waste produced from excavating underground parking causes our reclamation site to be filled up more quickly.
  • Deterioration of vegetation and our architectural heritage: everyone picks up the cost of maintaining buildings affected by car-induced pollutants.


The Alternatives to the Car

So, if we are to entice people out of the car, what are the alternatives? Walking, cycling, bus, car-sharing, taxis and tele-working are the most often cited and each have their advantages and limitations, some of which are listed below.





Walking: Effective for those whose workplace is less than one mile away.  For many, the use of a car for very short journeys is as much a question of habit as convenience.

It’s free, a great form of exercise and the best complement to all forms of public transport.  Currently, 23% of the population of Jersey walks to work.


It’s not suited to long distances or people with disabilities.

Cycling: despite its many advantages, cycling is rarely the first choice for the majority of commuters in Jersey (only 3% of employed people get to work this way).

·   The quickest mode of transport for medium distance travel into town (between 1 and 3 miles).

·   Easy to park.

·   Cheap to use and buy.

·   Keeps one fit.

·   Allows one to get around traffic hold ups.

·   Ideal complementary transport for journeys within town.

It is not, of course, the universal solution.

·      Cyclists are directly subjected to the hazards of weather.

·      Very exposed in the event of accidents.

·      Parked bikes require protection against theft.

·      Changing facilities are required at work.

·      One needs a certain level of fitness (… and to know how to ride a bike!).

Bus: only 4% of Jersey’s population use public transport for their daily travel to and from work.

It has a number of advantages over the private car:

·   You can make the most of your travel time (work, reading, relaxing, resting etc).

·   No need to find a parking space.

·   Relatively cheap when considering total costs.

But it can be inconvenient:

·      Certain areas are badly served and therefore not accessible.

·      Connections and waiting times can make the journey longer.

·      Comfort, physical accessibility and luggage can sometime be an obstacle for certain passengers.

·      Over crowding during summer/tourist months.

Car-sharing: This simply means more than one person per car per commute journey. It can be highly flexible depending on requirements. Only 14% of economically active adults currently use this method in Jersey.

·      Costs are shared.

·      Sharing transport encourages conviviality between work-mates.

·      Reduction in number of car journeys.

·      Less space needs to be devoted to parking.

·      Reduction in amount of pollutants being released into the atmosphere.

Car-sharing is less suited to:

·      Individuals with unpredictable working hours or varying locations.

·      Those with a high-level of work-related car journeys.

·      Those who live in isolated areas.

Taxis: are under-used for business travel, but can be an effective mode of transport that complements others.

For the occasional user, taxis have all the advantages of a private car, without the inconvenience.

·      Greater flexibility allowing “door to door” access at all hours of the day or night.

·      Speed and comfort.

·      No need to look for parking.

·      Handy for trips to unfamiliar locations.

·      The chance to read or prepare for meetings.

Taxis are not well suited to for frequent and regular journeys, due to the cost per trip.

Source: adapted from Paterson C. The Way to Work: A Guide to Green Commuter Plans.  Statistics are from the 2001 Jersey Census Report.


A more realistic alternative to giving up the car completely is to move towards a situation of travel blending i.e. selectively using the whole range of modes of transport available.  For example, “Kiss ‘n’ Ride”, i.e. getting your partner, family member or friend to give you a lift to a bus stop, might be a possibility – obviously, the kiss is optional!


Other alternatives

However, sometimes there is just no practical option other than the car and the fact is that in Jersey well over half the economically active population travel to work by private car.  So if you are going to use the car, how about thinking about more environmentally friendly fuels, either gas or electric powered? 


Electric cars emit zero harmful gases or pollutants. This means they give no local pollution, which is hugely different from all other cars. They are also whisper quiet and so reduce noise pollution as well. Electric cars are now becoming increasingly affordable (a brand new electric car can be bought for less than £7,500) and thanks to the success of the SMART car, smaller cars are proving to be a viable option without too much of a dent in the ego.


Electric cars are also less wasteful of natural resources, consuming on average only one quarter as much energy as a combustion engine car. So what’s the incentive? As well as saving the planet and running costs of less than 1p per mile perhaps Jersey could follow the lead of many London councils who now offer discounts of between 50% to 100% on residential parking zones for zero emission cars, or how about specially marked bays in public car parks, with reduced parking for zero emission cars?  How smug would you feel to drive into a space specially allocated for low emission vehicles in the Esplanade car park at five to nine?  And with the potential of a leasing option available in the UK on electric cars, they are the perfect option as a company pool car.


Furthermore, Citroen have recently brought out an electric version of the Berlingo van.  With a top speed of 60 mph and range of 60 miles without charge, this is a viable option for many businesses in Jersey. From flat, the batteries can be charged overnight using a normal domestic power supply and plug - fast charge for ten minutes gives 15 miles of operation.


A challenge for all businesses

Perhaps as a result of trying one of these other modes of transport for the day on Green Day, your company might have the incentive to develop a Green Commuter Plan?


There are demonstrable long term benefits to business from developing a transport policy that encourages alternatives to the car, ranging from actual cost savings to increased productivity from a happier, healthier workforce.  It has been proven that an employer can hope to achieve some, or all, of the following from the introduction of a Green Commuter Plan:

  • Cost savings
  • Reallocation of parking area for other more productive commercial use
  • Increased productivity
  • Improved customer access
  • Improved staff health and motivation
  • Improved company image


We, the Trustees of the Gerard Le Claire Environmental Trust, would like to set your business a challenge, to examine the way in which employees travel to work and then develop a Green Commuter Plan.  Wouldn’t it be great to have 30 Jersey organisations named as having taken on and implemented this challenge by Green Day 2005? Information about how to set about this task is available on our website


Sarah Le Claire, Chairman, Gerard Le Claire Environmental Trust












The Way to Work

© 2003 Copyright Gerard Le Claire Environmental Trust